This Week in Apps: Apple App Store’s new pricing, Twitter app makers shift to Mastodon, debate over Lensa AI
This Week in Apps is back! TechCrunch’s weekly series This article summarizes the most recent news about mobile OS news, mobile apps, and the overall app economy.
Global app spending reached $65 billion The first half of 2022 saw a slight increase in revenue from $64.4 billion in the 2021 period. This is because hypergrowth caused by the pandemic has slowed. Overall, however, the app economy continues to grow. Record Multiple reports show that the number of consumers who downloaded and spent on both the iOS and Google Play Stores combined in 2021 was approximately 1.2 billion. year-end Reports. The global spending on iOS and Google Play was $133 billion last year, and users downloaded 143.6 million apps.
This Week in Apps is a place where you can keep up with the fast-moving industry in one location. It includes news, updates and mergers and acquisitions.
Would you like This Week in Apps delivered to your inbox every Saturday? Register here techcrunch.com/newsletters
App Store dramatically expands pricing options
Apple this week Its requirements were relaxed As the App Store is under tight regulatory and legal control, there are increasing concerns about how developers must price their apps. The company announced that it would expand its App Store pricing system to allow developers to access 700 additional price points. This will bring the total number of price points to 900. It will allow U.S. developers the ability to set prices for apps and in-app purchases, as well as subscriptions, as low as $0.29 and as high as $10,000. This will also be possible in rounded endings (like $0.99) instead of $0.99. Similar policies will be implemented in global markets to reduce price restrictions, and new tools will be available to help developers better manage pricing outside of their local market.
For auto-renewable subscriptions, the changes were initially available from December 6, 2022. They will be available for paid apps and in app purchases in spring 2023.
Developers will be able to publish prices ending in $.00, instead of EURX.99 or $.99. Prices that start with two repeating numbers like W110,000.
Developers can now set their subscription prices using their local currency. This will allow them to automatically generate pricing across all 174 storefronts as well as 44 currencies. Pricing outside of a developer’s local market will be updated as foreign exchange and tax rates change. Developers have the option to manually set prices if they wish. Developers will also be able make in-app purchases via a storefront.
These changes were made after Apple Last year was settleda class action lawsuitWith U.S. app developers This agreement included a number concessions, including an agreement to increase the number of price points from fewer than 100 up to more than 500.
Debatt over top app Lensa AI
The Lensa AI, a photo editing app, has gone viral A new feature allows you to create “magic avatars” using a collection of uploaded selfie photos. The open-source software creates the avatars. Stable Diffusion Model to transform your photos so they look like digital artists. However, there is controversy about how these images are created.
The process is not quick or inexpensive. It can take up to half an hour, or even several hours, to complete. Lensa’s pricing model can also be quite complex. If you are a subscriber, it costs $3.99 for 50 avatars (five versions of 10 styles each) or $7.99 if you don’t. It costs $11.99 to get 100 avatars (10 variations from 10 styles), or $15.99 to get 200 avatars (20 varieties of 10 styles). Subscribers can also get a 50% discount on these avatars. This hybrid pricing was both clever and opportunistic. It’s also one those apps that uses dark colors to encourage users to sign up immediately after launch. The splash screen is a pop-up that you must bypass in order to use the app for free.
The cost is not the problem. It’s Stable Diffusion that is the engine behind the service’s massive backlash. The original training data for the AI included 2.3 billion captioned images taken from the internet. Some of these images are watermarked and copyrighted, and others from sites such as Pinterest, Smugmug and Flickr. Artists could not opt out of having their work included in the training data.
Artists are, understandably, concerned. Their unique styles are now being duped by an AI model. This means that their original art will be lost among the many auto-generated copycats. This is seen by some as a form unregulated theft and an existential threat. The consumers were enjoying the photos without understanding how the technology worked. They then became the targets of backlash and shame from those who did. Conscientious objectors quickly realized that they had wasted their money on photos they didn’t feel ethically safe using. These are complex issues that require more discussion. They were donated by an artist at least when Instagram launched its filters. Cole Rise. (He may regret later giving up his art to the company but the filters were not stolen.
The app maker also faced another problem when users discovered that it was easy to use. Make non-consensual nude photos in the app. Users can upload Photoshopped images of topless models with another person’s faces, such as the one above. The AI will disable its NSFW filter to create better-quality AI avatars for the person whose face was on the topless photo. The company It stated that it was working to stop this NSFW content from being created and noted that attempting to make it was in violation of its terms.
Mastodon is currently being built by third-party developers of Twitter apps
Third-party developers are starting to reconsider their dependence on Twitter’s API. There is a subtle shift in the Twitter app ecosystem.
Mastodon, an open-source alternative to Twitter, has now reached 3.3 million users. Gaining interest Recent developments from third-party Twitter app developers. Popular Twitter clients Aviary and Tweetbot were created by the developers of these apps. They now plan to create similar apps for the Mastodon user base.
Tapbots is an app developer, best known for its popular Twitter application Tweetbot For iOS and Mac, the Mastodon app is being developed. The app is similar in design to Tweetbot, which has been hailed as the best third-party Twitter client. This keeps getting better with age. Tweetbot 7 was released this year and included features such as picture-in-picture, stats tabs, and widgets. Tapbots is now working on IvoryMastodon’s subscription-based app, which includes access to key features such as your home timeline, @ mentions and favorites, search and trend, and your user profile. Paul Haddad, the developer of Tweetbots, stated that the goal is first to release stable 1.0 and then to add Mastodon-specific features.
Shihab Mehboob (aviary’s developer) is currently building a Mastodon client calledMammoth. The new app will be available as a paid download at an undetermined price. It will also include the latest Mastodon API functions when they are released.
App makers Developers aren’t the only ones affected Twitter chaos. As TechCrunch reported, TypelyEv Williams has backed a Twitter thread-making app called. Now, the company plans to shift its focus to LinkedIn. Scheduler Chirr App is also available Working on a Mastodon Integration, Tweepsmap has been launched Mastodon also has a post scheduler.
- iOS 16.2 RC is available Arrived Before the public release next week. This update is the most important, as it will bring you the new Freeform app, the newly-announced Apple Music Sing is a karaoke experience that includes karaoke. The first AirDrop limit of 10 minutes that reached China was China’s first. New Sleep and Medication widgets, new Home App architecture, and, with iPadOS 16.2, Stage Manager on iPads with external displays, among other things, the ability to use it. It will. Also, bring India offers 5G support for iPhones
- Apple has restructured its App Store pricing just a day after it was announced. RevenueCat stated that it would roll out A/B price testing.
- Apple has launched Advanced Data Protection, a new feature that provides data protection. End-to-end encryption iCloud Backups, Notes and Photos In the U.S., 2022, then globally, with China in 2023. Due to the interoperability of other systems, 23 data categories will be protected, except for iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendar. The FBI is not happy.
- Apple also announced an iMessage feature to assist users Verify that they are only messaging the intended recipients,Plus Apple ID support for hardware security key.
- However, the company stated that it is halting its efforts to launch a CSAM detection software for iCloud Photos.
- The developer series “Ask Apple”, December 12-16, For another week of one-on-1s and group Q&As about app building,
- Google’s Update Pixel Clear Calling (call enhancement) and Google One VPN are now available on Pixel 7/7 Pro. Also, automatic speaker labels can be found in the Recorder app for Pixel 6 and higher. All Pixel devices will get a new privacy hub to manage settings.
- Reddit launched its fun section End-of-year Recap Experience for Users, This includes stats about how much time you spend on site, which communities you are most active in, and many other things. This year, Apparently inspired by the Spotify Wrapped experience.Reddit also offers help personalized, sharable cards These include fun stats such as your most viewed comment or if you are a team cat or dog.
- Snap announced at its annual Lens Fest that it now has 300,000. Snap is currently building AR products. Creators will soon be able to use this feature. Build Lenses that showcase digital goods that are available for purchase Snap TokensAs part of this test, users will be able unlock power-ups and AR items within selected Lenses. Snap Also Adidas and Bitmoji have announced a partnership for a Bitmoji Fashion Drop.
- Twitter will launch dual pricing for its forthcoming Twitter Blue subscription relaunch.App Store users Due to the “Apple Tax”, you will be paying $11 per month Those who pay online will only be charged $7 per monthly
- Calm’s meditation app caters to gamers by adding new auditory environments from games such as “Halo Infinite”, and “Sea of Thieves” to Calm’s app. This can help people focus and improve their mood.
- Instagram’s Latest feature Brands and creators will be notified if their content is not eligible for recommendation Why?
- Cameo: Celeb greetings Cameo Kids was launchedYou can send personalized video messages to your child from popular characters Like Santa Claus and Thomas the Tank Engine.
- Epic Games launched Cabined accounts for children under 13 Fortnite, Rocket League, and Fall Guys.
- Microsoft Teams Wants to reach consumers With its new Communities feature, clubs and groups can now use it People who need to communicate and organize. This market is also targeted by Discord and Slack, as well as Facebook Groups and WhatsApp’s new Community.
- Telegram allows users to communicate with each other via Telegram Register without a SIM By offering virtual numbers to purchase via “toncoins”, in Partnership With Fragment. The company also announced the 1 Million Subscribers milestone.
- WhatsApp now offers 3D avatars Users can Set the personalized avatars for their profile photo You can choose from 36 stickers that reflect different emotions and actions.
- TikTok has released its year-end trends report. Apparently, A chocolate giraffe It was extremely popular, as was a selection of dumb life hacks.
- Yelp takes on Angie’s List. A new way of doing things hire service professionals In the app.
- Amazon Luna now allows Prime members to Play already purchased Ubisoft Games You can access Luna without registering.
- YouTube is Rolling out Its own version of Twitch emotes.
- Zenly, a Snapchat-owned social mapping app, is closing down. RIP.
- Facebook Dating is Now, we are going to test Verify that you are the same age as the tech Meta is currently testing Instagram. Users suspected to be underage may need to upload IDs or take selfie videos.
- Robinhood A waitlist was added Robinhood Retirement will now offer IRAs through a new feature. With a 1% match for every dollar contributed
- Roblox will allow users aged 13 and over to use the platform. To import their contacts You can also recommend friends to us.
This Week in Twitter Drama
This week was a busy one at the chaotic bird app company! Here’s a quick overview in case you haven’t been keeping up to date with all the drama:
- Twitter is trying to attract back advertisers With huge incentivesMatching $500,000 to $1 Million in spending is possibleCapacity up to $1 Million Twitter’s advertising revenue is estimated to be $1 million Expectations 80% lower As of the World Cup’s November 20, start.
- Elon Musk made a big deal out of publishing internal emails in response to Twitter’s Hunter Biden laptop drama. These reveals he calls “The Twitter Files”. But hyped event fell a little flat They only seemed to show a company having conversations over difficult content moderation decisionsThe company eventually had to take the unusual step of limiting the reach of a news article at the time due to concerns that it was a hack and leak campaign by Russia and would violate Twitter’s anti-doxing policy. Twitter admitted that the decision was wrong in hindsight, and with the help of additional information and reporting,
- Ella Irwin, Twitter’s new VP for Trust and Safety The company said so Now, automation will be used to moderate Content, not removals.
- Twitter later released another “Twitter file” That again demonstrated the company’s simplicity Moderation is a difficult business, In this instance Conflating shadowbanning and de-amplificationKayvon Beykpour, a former Twitter executive It should be notedThe characterization is also called “A lazy interpretation or intentionally misleading.”
- Additional Concerns were raised As to whether or not the reporter who tweeted the story (who isn’t a Twitter employee), was given access to internal systems access, as she included screenshots from Twitter’s internal systems within the posts.
- Musk Also “exited”. Jim Baker is the deputy general counsel Baker’s possible role in suppressing information related to the so-called Twitter Files was cited as a concern.
- Musk stated that he would speak out later. Twitter update Users will be able to see the results If they’ve been shadowbanned Why?
- Twitter Allowed Andrew Anglin, a neo Nazi and founder of The Daily Stormer, is back on the app
- Advertisements for major brands It was On the pages of two white nationalists Musk restored their accounts. Snap, Uber, Amazon and other ads were also affected. Twitter Later, emailed advertisers It will announce controls to stop ads from appearing next to certain keywords.
- Twitter is facing multiple lawsuits over layoffsIt could end up paying millions in arbitration fees. Some H-1B visa holders may be able to work in the United States. Also, They didn’t receive adequate immigration support.
- Twitter’s iOS app was launched Faced with security issues due to a variety of key features,You can protect tweets and toggle DM settings.
- Twitter will offer Two different prices for Twitter blue: To offset the “Apple Tax”, you can subscribe for $7 per month if purchased from the website or $11 if purchased via in-app purchase.
- It began to act savagely in the meantime. Modifying legacy users‘ checkmarks To inform users who clicked “This is a legacy verified Account.” It may or not be noted.
- Twitter Diverse developer-focused projects were shut down Like Twitter Toolbox Other.
- Musk has now promised to delete 1.5 billion inactive accounts To get rid of usernames.
We are thinking about…
A Facebook Twitter clone
The New York Times We took a look at social apps and startups that capitalized on Twitter’s chaos following the Musk acquisition. Also, we dropped the bombshell revelation that Meta could be preparing to clone Twitter. The company had been using Instagram Notes to send short messages, but now it was wondering if this product should be its own app or another Instagram feed. There is a clear opportunity for Meta to gain traction in the midst of Twitter’s transition, when some users are looking to get out. However, we hope Meta doesn’t add more clutter to the already overcrowded Instagram app and instead takes a real risk.
Meta hasn’t launched a new app successfully in years so it’s easy to see how it wouldn’t want to do it now. It would be, however. So It would be interesting if it created a simplified, text-heavy version of Facebook — let us call it FB Classic (Gen Z loves nostalgia!) The News Feed is transformed into a Twitter-like, real-time feed. No complicated navigation, private groups, Reels, marketplaces, or other nefarious features of Facebook today. All of it should be managed through Facebook’s existing moderation and reporting systems. You can allow people to post privately to friends or make it more public. Imagine if Facebook manipulated Twitter’s core features, such as replies, threads and posts, but didn’t add any additional features. Maybe even the ability to sync selected posts from Facebook (and the upcoming IG Notes), to the app’s Twitter feed for a minimalistic feed that gets everyone started…I mean…I know Meta is building the metaverse right now, but…a Twitter 2.0 arms race would be between Meta and Twitter. Wild To watch.
A Microsoft Super App?
According to Microsoft, they have discussed launching a super app that includes web search, news, and shopping to better compete against Google. Information. It is amazing to imagine how difficult and expensive it would be for users to download another search application at this time. Google complains it’s losing search market share due to TikTok Instagram. Maybe Microsoft should index TikTok, launch a Gen Z marketing campaign for the app, and call its new super app a better search tool for TikTok videos. Ha! Ha! It did consider buying TikTok. Okay, okay, I kid. To succeed, a Microsoft Super App will need more than Bing (still can’t believe they called it that) to attract the next generation.
Government, Policy, and Lawsuits
- Meta It failed in its attempt To annul a $267 million penalty over WhatsApp’s Breach of GDPR transparency obligations
- Indiana’s attorney general sued TikTok China’s access of user data and the exposure of children to mature content are two examples of how they deceive users.
- EU regulators ruled Meta cannot use its Terms of Service to make users see personalized ads. On Facebook and Instagram
- Texas Banned TikTok for government-issued devices Other states, such as South Dakota, South Carolina, and Maryland, have also done the same.
- The The SEC is investigating Whether or not the social event app IRL misled investors. The company raised SoftBank paid $170 million to the company at a $1.17billion valuation last year. However, some employees told The Information that they weren’t sure the app had 20 million users.
- Uber Eats settled a lawsuit against the City of Chicago over listing local restaurants on the Uber Eats or Postmates apps without the restaurants’ consent. Additional commission fees may be charged. Uber will pay $10 Million $5 million will be used to pay damages to restaurants.
Data.ai has released its annual report, which predicts the next big mobile trends in 2023 (below). The full report can be found here Here. Its prediction that mobile advertising spend will reach $362 Billion next year is of particular interest.
M&A and funding
Oda, a Norwegian grocery delivery app, 1.5 billion Norwegian crowns raised Equity (approximating $151 million). In funding at a lower valuation of $353 millions. The service is available in its home market, as well as Finland & Germany.
Singapore super app Osome $25 Million raised In Series B funding. The app assists business owners with administrative tasks such as payroll, accounting, and tax reporting. It is currently used by over 11,000 businesses.
Jahez, a Saudi Arabia-based food delivery company, has acquired The Chefz In a cash and stock transaction For $173 Million.
You probably are. Still want to see it? Despite the controversy, Lensa AI’s avatars with Stable Diffusion look impressive. This is a great example of an AI use case, even though it is ethically questionable. There is a lot of demand for AI avatars. Lensa’s popularity has a knock-on impact on the App Store’s Top Charts. Apps like AI Art, Image Generator, Meitu, Photo Editor, & AI Art; Wonder; AI Art Generator, Dawn, AI Avatars, and Prequel; Aesthetic AI Editor all made it into the top 30. Apps that have “AI” in the names are more popular than apps that have paid App Store Search ads.
- ProtonE2EE cloud storage service launched iOS apps and Android apps. It offers 1GB storage for free, 200GB storage for $4 per month, 500GB storage for $10 per month, and 500GB storage for $10 per month.
- Copilot: The most popular finance and budgeting app launched A Mac counterpart.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.